Comics kill and so do killers. And so does #SetTheVCR: if enjoy killing then this’ll be an outstanding TV week for you.
Monday, November 06
The Mill (Anytime / Disney+ Canada)
A businessman mysteriously wakes up in an open-air prison cell with only an old grist mill. Forced to work as a beast of burden, he must find a way to escape before the birth of his child. The Hulu horror-sci-fi movie comes to Canada today.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: ANYTHING FOR FAME (ANYTIME / PARAMOUNT+ CANADA)
A startling and timely study of contemporary celebrity, Anything for Fame ventures into the virtual Wild West to profile an ambitious-and reckless-new breed of content creator.
The keyword in the description of this provocative NFB doc is reckless: “A startling and timely study of contemporary celebrity, Anything for Fame ventures into the virtual Wild West to profile an ambitious-and reckless-new breed of content creator.” What would you do for fame? In the doc you’ll meet Ava who went viral for licking an airplane bathroom toilet set. She called it a Coronavirus Challenge. And you’ll meet Jake an Ontario skateboarder who performs Jackass type stunts with nail guns and getting shot at with sharp needle tipped darts. There will be blood. So…what would you do for fame? Remember Hoop Dreams from the mid-90s? It was a doc following two inner city kids and their struggles to make it into professional basketball (NBA). Anything for Fame is Hoop Dreams for influencers. It’s a nuanced looked at going viral and the struggles of influencers to become wealthy and (internet) famous. Programming Note: Currently streaming on Paramount+ Canada; the NFB will steam Anything for Fame for free across Canada on November 8, 2023 via NFB.ca.
Tuesday, November 07
Dolly Parton – From Rhinestones to Rock & Roll (10 p.m. / ABC)
Dolly Parton rocks out from 9 to 5.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE IMPROV: 60 AND STILL STANDING (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
Ten top comics hit the stage to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Improv comedy club in this special featuring archival footage of iconic performers.
Ever seen a stand up comic telling jokes in front of a plain brick wall? (An Evening at the Improv a classic TV series ran from 1981 to 1996. I often watched and enjoyed the stand up.) Welcome to the Improv. This doc is a follow up to 1993’s The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall. Once again several comics pay tribute to the legendary stand-up stage founded by Budd Friedman in 1963. For The Improv at 60 documentary this time the comics are: Craig Robinson, Kevin Nealon, Jeff Dunham, Mark Normand, Whitney Cummings and Jo Koy. Plus many more! I wonder which comics will be in the The Improv at 90 documentary.
Wednesday, November 08
Robbie Williams (Anytime / Netflix)
A four-part docuseries on the solo artist and former Take-That singer and songwriter.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: ABOUT MY FATHER (ANYTIME / CRAVE)
When Sebastian tells his old-school Italian immigrant father Salvo that he is going to propose to his all-American girlfriend, Salvo insists on crashing a weekend with her tony parents.
Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro wear a lot of cologne and talk with their hands a lot as they to win the affection and approval of Sebastian’s girlfriend’s family.
Thursday, November 09
Temple of Film: 100 Years of the Egyptian Theatre (Anytime / Netflix)
Guillermo del Toro, Rian Johnson and other film luminaries look back at LA’s historic Egyptian Theatre as it returns to its former movie palace glory.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: BLACKBERRY: THE LIMITED SERIES (ANYTIME / CBC GEM)
BlackBerry tells the story of the meteoric rise and catastrophic demise of the world’s first smartphone.
In Waterloo, 1996, Research in Motion CEO Mike Lazaridis and his best friend and co-founder Douglas Fregin prepare to pitch their “PocketLink” cellular device to businessman. That’s how it all started. An additional 16 minutes was added to the theatrical release hence the TV mini-series. (I’ve seen both: the original theatrical release and now the Limited Series. You’ll have fun with either choice.) It’s got heart and soul and an incredible soundtrack: White Stripes, Moby, Joy Division…MC Hammer. The opening credits montage is remarkable as well. Savour that. So move over Laura Secord and the guys who created Superman…this is an incredible Heritage Minute for Canadians worth capturing. Turns out we can do hubris as well as Americans. Programming Note: All three episodes are available on CBC Gem today. For Americans all three episodes will be available on AMC+ on November 13. The 90s are slowly being recognized for the profound impact they had on our (pop) culture.
Friday, November 10
For All Mankind: Season 4 (Anytime / Apple TV+)
The 10-episode fourth season opens in 2003 where the focus of the space program has turned to the capture and mining of extremely valuable, mineral-rich asteroids that could change the future of both Earth and Mars. Space Is The Place.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: THE KILLER (ANYTIME / NETFLIX)
After a fateful near-miss an assassin battles his employers, and himself, on an international manhunt he insists isn’t personal
It’s David Fincher. That’s it. That’s the entire marketing hook…you’re either in or you’re out. It’s Fincher. Oh and Andrew Kevin Walker. But yeah…Fincher, yo!
Saturday, November 11
Sisu (Anytime / Crave)
Team Ruckus Alert! When an ex-soldier who discovers gold in the Lapland wilderness tries to take the loot into the city, Nazi soldiers led by a brutal SS officer battle him.
With testimonials from some of the brightest comedy talents and serious thinkers, as well as family and friends, the film chronicles Al Brooks’ very early work all the way to present day.
Rob Reiner is Albert Brooks’ BFF. So he decided they should sit down together and turn on the cameras and “explore the origins and evolution of Brooks’ career, the impetus for his creativity, and the impact he has had on the world of comedy.” That works for me! A popular voice on The Simpsons (Jacques…he just came back recently.) to Taxi Driver and more. Brooks is comedy royalty. If you don’t believe me then listen to the funny people in the doc: Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Wanda Sykes, Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Steven Spielberg, Sarah Silverman, David Letterman, Larry David, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow, Sharon Stone, Brian Williams, Anthony Jeselnik, Tiffany Haddish, Nikki Glaser, James L. Brooks and Neil deGrasse Tyson. This airs one day after The Killer which is irony since Albert Brooks often killed. However it is Remembrance Day and we should take a moment to remember and appreciate veterans like Albert Brooks for his incredible comedic work.
Sunday, November 12
Candace Parker: Unapologetic (9 p.m. / ESPN)
Directed by Joie Jacoby, the wide-ranging, revealing, and at times intimate film will cover Parker’s journey through basketball and life.
SAMMY SUGGESTION: BEACON 23: SEASON 1 (9 P.M. / MGM+)
Beacon 23 takes place in the farthest reaches of the Milky Way and follows Aster, a government agent, and Halan, a stoic ex-military man, whose fates become entangled after they find themselves trapped together inside one of many Beacons that serve as a lighthouse for intergalactic travelers.
And now a science-fiction mystery thriller. That’s my jam. Plus an Artificial Intelligence humanoid? Oh Yes. Indeed every Beacon is run by one highly trained human and a specialized Artificial Intelligence. Aster is a government agent while Halan is ex-military and the lonely Beacon-keeper. Got it. But how exactly did Aster end up here? Halan is starting to doubt her and question her agenda…paranoia in space is so deadly. Is Aster is friend or foe? I didn’t read the Hugh Howey novel this is all adapted from; have you? So I dunno what to expect except shifting alliances and lots of tension because space comes with so much pressure. Hopefully this is the latest contribution to the flourishing in space no one can hear you scream genre.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.